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VENETA, Ore. -- The fiancée of Kenneth Hill, the man who drowned in the Fern Ridge Reservoir on Sunday, is speaking out about the tragedy.
Krista Greene said Hill went by his middle name, Lance. She and Hill had taken the kids out on their brand new boat on Sunday. She said they drove out to the middle of the lake and began blowing up inner tubes when one flew off the boat.
Greene said she jumped in after the tube, but she couldn't reach it. By that point she had gotten too far away from the boat and was in some rough water. Hill jumped in after her, but ended up starting to struggle as well.
“He kept telling me 'Please don't die,' and I kept telling him to just calm down," Greene said. "We're not going to die."
She says two of the boys on board jumped out to bring a life jacket to them, and Hill pushed them back toward the boat and told them to get in. It was then that the water got rougher as they tried to wave down passing boats. After a particularly large wave, Greene said, Hill didn't come back up.
“When we went down and came back up he didn't come up, and all I could see was the top of his head,” Greene said.
She said even though she knew he was gone, she had to hold on to his body and do what she could. She said she put him onto the life jacket and attempted CPR. All the while she could hear the children screaming and honking the horn, begging for help.
She said it's been hard not to blame herself in this situation. She said he was a hero and saved her life, and she wishes she could've saved his too.
“It's like a nightmare when it's happening, and you don't believe that it's going to happen,” Greene said. “I kept telling myself, 'There's no way he's gone.'"
Greene said it was upsetting to her that none of the passing boats stopped while the children waved and honked. She said she hopes if people take one safety lesson from this, it’s to pay closer attention to the people around you on the water, because she feels if one boat had stopped, it may have changed the outcome.
"Nobody stopped, nobody helped," Greene said. "The orange flag was up. The kids were screaming. The more the boats went by the waves would take us under more.”
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